08 December 2008

The stories in life

Wow, over an entire month has passed since I last updated. I've had ideas and started drafts and had good intentions of posting but real life kept getting in the way. So for those of you still around thanks! If you left, I really hope you come back.

Part of what has kept me posting has been various life events. As I mentioned a couple posts back I've made the decision to look for a new position. I'm searching for a position that for various reasons will better meet the needs I have to take the next step in my professional career and grow and flourish. It's nothing against my current work place, they just aren't quite what I need at this point. So the job hunt has taken up some of my time (okay a fair amount of effort looking for the right place.) Hopefully something will happen in the next few weeks.

During this search I've learned a lot about what makes me, me and how the place that I work at can contribute to that. Conversely I've also found the opposite and that's also helped me with my job search. It's been an interesting experience. And one of the things that I've realized during this search is that I used to tell pretty good stories (or at least I thought I did.) Yet, somehow during this search and a few other things that have happened I forgot how to tell stories. No I don't mean telling "stories" as fibs, but telling the story of my day, week, life. My journey as it was. I had become more focused on the sentences and paragraphs, or the half story lines that never got completed. It wasn't until preparing for an interview that I realized that I missed being able to tell stories. That I missed being able to tell those that I interact with what's going on.

So I'm trying again. I'm going to try to tell more stories of my day and life. Maybe they'll only end up as drafts of blog posts or sharing frustrations in more private venues, but I'm going to try to focus on more of the story and not just the parts.

So thanks for listening to my story thus far. And for a few folks (whom I don't wanna embarrass) thank you for listening to more of my bits of stories over the last few months than others. You know who you are (or at least I hope you do) and thank you for your advice, patience, and friendship during this time.

29 October 2008

Notes on GA COMO presentation

For those of you that have been waiting, thanks for your patience! Here are the brief notes on my presentation and thoughts on programs.

This is a bit long, but as through as I could be on my notes. If you have questions please let me know

2nd slide: if you are interested in Open Source ILS please let me know and I'll put you in touch with people that are in the know on those.

4th slide: examples of some free programs that most people are familiar with, what others one do you know?

5th slide: By a show of hands choose top 2 or three topics your interested in and we'll cover examples of those topics (note in presentation audience wanted to cover all topics. As such we were not able to get to computer protection or other)
Other includes: file conversion, online storage, and free website/hosting

6th slide: Document alternatives
  1. Open Office--includes word, spreadsheet, database, PPT, draw, and math formulas (just launched updated version recently)
  2. IBM Lotus--relatively new document, spreadsheet, and PPT
  3. Zoho--full suite of applications, just launched e-mail. All kinds of items, check it out
  4. Google Documents--showcased. Easy to share documents and collaborate with others. PPT, spreadsheet, documents, just launched forms. Very similar in layout to Microsoft office.
  5. Slideshare--way to share PPT presentations, just expanded into other areas.

7th-13th slide: Screen Shots of Google Documents
14th slide: Photo Editing
  1. Paint.net--powerful paint/photo/design software. Equivalent of Adobe Photoshop/Draw in many ways.
  2. Gimp--similar to Paint.net. Complex tool, but lots of good features. Does take time to learn
  3. Artweaver--New, haven't explored much yet.
  4. Picnik--integrated with Flickr. Basic photo editing techniques. Has pay version with more features
  5. FotoFlexer--Most advanced online photo editing tool. Basic tools, plus effects such as stickers, paiting, sepia, etc. Has easy integration (via API's) with social networking tools. Was software showcased. *NEW* has a feature to create posters (inspirational or other), black border.

15th-20th slide: Screen Shots of FotoFlexer
21st-22nd slide: Laugh break and stay on target!

23rd slide: Screen sharing
  1. 12seconds--not screen sharing but cool feature. You have 12 seconds to share a message with others. All hosting done online. Requires a webcam
  2. Screencast-O-Matic--software demonstrated. Requires Java to run. Very simple easy to use. Doesn't cover full screen so you have to move box around to capture what you're showcasing. Way to demonstrate how to navigate website, database, etc. Limited to 15 minutes, but be honest who wants to listen to something longer than 15 minutes? Can export quicktime file to host where you choose, or host on their server. No download!
  3. Jing--very basic, only 5 minutes. can only be hosted on their server.
  4. CamStudio--requires download. Has many of the same features of Screencast-O-Matic. Does require a download.
  5. CaptureFox--new add on for FireFox. Very basic at this point. Somewhat stilted, but will likely work past it's bugs to grow.

24th-27th slide: Screen shots of Screen-Cast-O-Matic

28th slide:
Online Meeting Collaboration
  1. ooVoo--chat with a webcam. Very limited. Requires a download, somewhat difficult to navigate.
  2. Skype--one of the most popular applications to make phone calls and chat with people while away.
  3. DimDim--online meeting collaboration, whiteboard, sharing desktop. borad based.
  4. WiZiQ--software demonstarted. Share desktop, whiteboard, easy to collaborate. Does have a pay version that has more features (such as storing the recording for a set amount of time.) Can take test online, share documents, has storage so that you don't have to wait to upload documents, does it automatically.
  5. Doodle--shcedule a meeting or a pool. Limited, but does what its meant to.
29th-37th slide: Screen shots of WizIq

(did not get to these last slides)
38th slide:
Computer Protection
(if demo was provided it would be live features running on laptop--AVG and Firewall)
  • AVGfree--paid version exisits with more features, but AVGfree does the basics very well. Make sure you read the license carefully as my interpretation is that it can't be used for business use, only personal. Will update and run scans automatically depending upon the setting that you provide.
  • Spybot--paid version provides more options, such as automatic scanning and updating. Free version does a good job of catching spyware, but user most remember to run it and download updates. Simple to use interface and fairly easy to navigate.
  • PC Tools Firewall--provides complex coverage of system and ability to manipulate. First couple of weeks requires constant tweaking to provide maximum coverage, but afterwards is a good way monitor and block programs trying to access the internet or make changes to computer's registry without permission.
39th slide: Other
  1. Zamzar.com--convert files from one type to another easily, ranging from documents to video files to other. Upload file and it will send converted file to your e-mail address.
  2. Weebly.com--software to be demoed. many places to host free blog, not so many to host free website. This site allows for both and for sites to be integrated. Does have pay version, but free version allows for the basics that most users would be looking for.
  3. ADrive.com--provides 50gb of online storage for free. Great way to store documents wihout worrying about losing a flash drive. Can handle multiple formats of files. Some limitations. Does have pay versions that allow for greater features.
40th slide : Screen shot of Weebly

41st slide:
Sources for information
Places to check for free alternatives and new tools to use

42nd slide: reminders
  1. Always, always check the license to make sure you agree with what you want to do!
  2. If downloading a program that your not familiar with, check download.com or softpedia.com to make sure that programs are spyware/virus free.
Any questions please feel free to contact me.

New LISjobs.com site!

If you haven't checked out Lisjobs.com, go now. Stop reading this post and go, seriously. Lisjobs, run by Rachel Singer Gordon (who blogs at "The Liminal Librarian," writes some great books, edits, starting a review site for Technology books, and oh so much more), is a great resource for those not only looking for a job, but those that are just looking for advice once your in the job!

This is one of those sites I check out on if not every day at least a weekly basis because of the great informaiton provided. Here's the full press release on the redesign:

*LISjobs.com launches new website*

Villa Park, IL -- Visitors to LISjobs.com will notice a new look and feel
today as the newly-redesigned site launches. The redesign brings LISjobs.com
in line with current web standards and adds new content and features. Note
that old links willl be broken; please update your links and bookmarks.

Highlights of the redesign include:

- Better integration of the LISjobs.com
forum<http://www.lisjobs.com/forum/>and other interactive site
- Job ads <http://www.lisjobs.com/jobseekers/job-ads.asp> that, as
always, are *free* to both job seekers and employers.
- New content on education <http://www.lisjobs.com/education/> and career
development <http://www.lisjobs.com/careers/>, including information on MLIS
scholarships <http://www.lisjobs.com/education/scholarships.asp> as well
as on funding conference
other CE
opportunities <http://www.lisjobs.com/careers/ce-funding.asp>.
- A more standards-compliant and accessible design.
- A new logo designed by Wendy Koff <http://www.undercoverlibrarian.com/>,
Librarian and Web Designer.
- Updated links to outside resources; all links were checked manually in
October 2008.
- Improved organization -- information for both job seekers and employers
is now easier to find.
- Opportunities for
sponsorship<http://www.lisjobs.com/about/sponsor.asp>-- relevant
organizations can easily reach an audience of librarians and
info pros.

"I'm excited to launch the new and improved LISjobs.com to better serve
librarians, library workers, and info pros at all stages of their careers,"
says webmaster Rachel Singer Gordon. "Stay tuned for more additions and
improvements soon!"

Love the new logo? Grab yourself a t-shirt at the new LISjobs.com Cafepress
store <http://www.cafepress.com/lisjobs>. Find a job on LISjobs.com? Join
the Flickr group <http://www.flickr.com/groups/lisjobs/>, upload your photo,
and you could see yourself featured on the site. (Don't have a Flickr
account? Email your photo and story to rac...@lisjobs.com.)

LISjobs.com offers:

- Free job ads <http://www.lisjobs.com/jobseekers/job-ads.asp>
- Free bimonthly professional development
- Low-cost resume
- A library career- and professional development-related online
discussion forum <http://lisjobs.com/forum/>
- Career Q&A <http://www.lisjobs.com/careerqa_blog/> from Susanne
Markgren and Tiffany Allen
- Rethinking Information Careers <http://www.lisjobs.com/rethinking/>, a
regular column by Kim Dority
- ... and more!

Come, explore, join in, and become part of the LISjobs.com community.

Go check it out now!

19 October 2008

Notes are coming...

The notes for my presentation are coming don't worry. I took the weekend to recover from being somewhat more worn out that I thought I was. Last week I had a lot packed in a very short three day time span, so I and my humble computer are destressing a bit.

So while your waiting I thought I'd point you to a few of my friends blogs. Right now in Monterey, CA is the Internet Librarian 2008 Conference, hosted by the same folks that do Computers in Libraries. I've not been to Internet Librarian (maybe next year), but know many of the folks that are presenting there on a wide variety of interesting and creative topics. So I'm sure they'll be blogging about it as they go along. So make sure follow these guys:
Iris Jastram
Amanda Etches-Johnson
Jason Griffey
Jenica Rogers-Urbanek
Steve Lawson
David Lee King
Michael Sauers

16 October 2008

GA COMO Presentation

For those that were at my presentation this afternoon thanks for listening and congrats you found me on the web! For other folks here is my PPT presentation:

And here is the delicious list of software.
I'm still working on adding stuff in so don't worry if you don't see all the items from the presentation yet, they'll be there. I'll blog more about this later as I must finish posting/updating elsewhere :)

***Update--I've actually added the link for delicious (sorry!) I'll also be doing another blog post this weekend on my notes from the conference so if you weren't able to come you can still get the gist I've what I said.

07 October 2008

A short animated film

One of my interests (outside of libraries and technology) is art and I follow a couple of blogs to keep up with whats going on in the art world. One of the best that I've found is Drawn: the illustration and cartooning blog. A while back he linked to this wonderful short animated film When the Day Breaks that won the Palme d’Or in the short film category at Cannes in 1999. It tells the chance encounter of two characters and what happens to them. It is a wonderfully done animation and story line at just over 9 minutes long. Here's the post from Drawn and below you'll find the video.

Me part 2

I posted earlier, the second post I did on this blog, on who I am. Since I've started this post I've gained subscribers (howdy folks!), attended Computers in Libraries 2008, and met some really, really awesome folks both in real life and virtually. And I've thought about who I am and what I want to do with this blog.

I'm still trying to figure out the last question and wish I could say I'm going to focus only on a narrow topic of librarianship, like access services or web 2.0. But at this time I just can't pin it down. I look at the library world and I'm interested in so many different aspects of it that I want to talk about it and post on it. I will say my posts will probably tend to talk more about technology and how it can be used as librarians, but I may post on other things as well. I'll keep y'all updated as I go along, but I hope you enjoy the ride as I write about libraries.

In answer to the second question, I'm currently at my first professional job. And although it's had rough patches I can't say that I would trade it because I've learned a lot and met folks that I wouldn't have otherwise. But, I think the time has come for me to look at other places and take the next step in my professional growth. So I am looking and applying for other places. I'll keep y'all up-to-date on that front as well.

Well that's all for me part 2, if you have any questions let me know! You can find me at ashuping gmail (please no spam, I get plenty of that already!) or leave comments. Oh, and I'll be putting up a link sometime soon for the webpage I'm working on.

As always please note that all thoughts are my own and not associated with Mercer University, my co-workers, or the higher powers that be at my library.

30 September 2008

Some innovative ideas from LibraryThing

LibraryThing currently has two, different promotions going on that will help them out.

The first one is YOU get to help find the next 3 LibraryThing employees. It's a very cool idea and a neat way to find someone they may not have otherwise heard about the position.

Find us a Maine—or anyway within an hour of Portland, ME—employee and we’ll give you $1,000 in books.

We did this once before. It’s how we found John, our Systems Adminitrator. (John found himself, so he got his own $1,000.)

Jobs. We have three potential jobs to fill.

  • Hacker. We’re looking for PHP hacker. JavaScript genius and library-data experience. We hope we get two of those.
  • Graphic designer/user-experience guru. Experience designing for data-rich sites like LibraryThing a must.
  • Brainy, overworked assistant. Smart, flexible, organized, relentless—willing to do both high-level (strategic analysis) and low-level (send-out-these-CueCats) work. The job is non-technical, but you need to be super-comfortable around computers.

Rules! You get a $1,000 gift certificate to Abebooks, Amazon, Booksense or the independent bookseller of your choice. (Longfellow Books? Books Etc.?) You can split it between them. You don’t need to buy books with it (but why do that?).

Here's the complete information for helping LibraryThing find an employee.

The second promotion is a chance to help design a logo for Legacy Library. Here's a description on what the legacy library is:
A group for those interested and involved in entering the personal libraries of famous readers into LibraryThing as Legacy Libraries.
And here's the rules for helping them design a logo.

Some very cool ideas from a very cool group, so make sure you check them out.

29 September 2008

Library 2.0 Conference in Slovakia

Got this via one of the Code4Lib and while I won't be able to attend I thought I'd post here in case others were interested or knew someone that might be. It looks to be an interesting exploration of Library 2.0 concepts and a chance to network with our European colleagues. What I found even more interesting was this tidbit (granted it's from 2008):
When you are not able to visit Elag 2008 this year, you can still follow all plenary meetings via WURTV. All plenary meetings are broadcasted live over the internet. In a split screen you can see the speaker as well as the presentation on the overhead display. Unfortunately, Internet Explorer is required to see WURTV
I can't find any information on whether or not this will be continued in 2009, but how cool that they streamed their videos!

Call for presentations: "New Tools of the Trade", ELAG Conference, 22 – 24 April, 2009,
Bratislava, Slovakia.

Web 2.0, social networking applications, blogs, wikis, RSS feeds, facetted searching,
semantic linking and digital documents are just some of the new developments that are
rapidly changing the systems environment in libraries and what users expect from the
systems that they use. To respond to these challenges, systems librarians and developers
need to "re-tool": they need to discover and master new ways of developing and applying
informatics to solve information problems. The ELAG 2009 Conference is calling for
presentations on new tools including:
• innovative software, applications and environments
• emerging formats, protocols and standards or new ways of applying existing standards
• new procedures and techniques

Place: Bratislava, Slovakia
Host: University Library of Bratislava, (Univerzitná knižnica v Bratislave)
Dates: 22 - 24 April, 2009

Deadline for submissions: 24 November, 2008
Address for submission: ron.davies@ec.europa.eu or roy.gundersen@bibsys.no

Further Information is available on the 2008 conference website at http://library.wur.nl/elag2008/
nder "ELAG 2009".

Information for presenters

The emphasis of the ELAG conference is on new developments and practical experience with library technology rather than academic presentations but relevant user studies are welcome. Presentations at the ELAG are generally 20-25 minutes in length to allow time for discussion. The working language of the conference is English.

Submissions should include a 300-word description of the project or topic, references to sites if
available and a short biography of the speaker indicating background, involvement in the project
or activity and public presentation experience. The Programme Committee will review all submissions. Notification regarding acceptance will be made by early January 2009. Speakers are normally expected to provide their own travel accommodation costs and the nominal registration fee.

Programme Committee

Ron Davies, Belgium (Co-chair)
Roy Gundersen, Norway (Co-chair)
Alojz Androvič, Slovakia
Iris Marthaler, Switzerland
Ere Majaila, Finland
Martin Svoboda, Czech Republic
Maja Žumer, Slovenia

What is the ELAG Conference?

ELAG is Europe's premier conference on the application of information technology in libraries and documentation centres. For more than twenty-five years, the ELAG (European Library Automation Group) Conference has provided library and IT professionals with the opportunity to discuss new technologies, to review on-going developments and to exchange best practices. The conference follows a unique format, where subject-specific workshops alternate with single-track plenary presentations and a variety of social activities that provide a memorable opportunity to meet and exchange views with colleagues from a wide range of European countries.

The 2009 conference will be hosted by the University Library of Bratislava, (Univerzitná knižnica v Bratislave or UKB) in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia from 22 to 24 April, 2009.

For information on past conferences go to http://www.elag.org.

15 September 2008

Culling the herd (RSS subscritptions that is)

I just came across this great post by Lee LeFever (of CommonCraft fame) on weeding RSS feed subscriptions. Lee talks about how he was subscribed to feeds not because he wanted to read them, but because he felt he should be reading them. After a period of time of not checking his feeds at all, he decided to start fresh. Now he only subscribes to... well here are his words:
"My RSS reader is now filled with subscriptions to sites that matter to me. These posts are written by people I know and care about. They make me feel like reading RSS is a treat - a few minutes spent being with an old friend."
The post really resonated with me, because this is one of the projects that I've undertaken twice in the last year. In fact I just finished up again today (after reading Lee's post.) I started this weekend by creating a list of all the feeds that I was subscribed too. And then I took a long look at the feeds, what was I getting out of them? Did I start things to follow back up on? How many in the last few months? What information did they really provide? And then I started deleting.

I kept some things like Lifehacker, DownloadSquad even though they post 30 times a day, because for the most part, I do get something out of them. I enjoy seeing what's out there and learning of new technologies. The hard decisions came to those things I felt like I had to be subscribed to, like ResourceShelf. It's got some great information, but the information just didn't seem relevant to me. So I weeded and weeded more.

And after weeding I'm down to 105. I know that sounds like a lot but let me break it down a bit:
10 in Journal subscriptions (update once a month)
5 in Job feeds (you never know)
1 for Hulu updates
15 only update once in a while and are artists or feeds like the Daily Kitten. Their feeds that give me a brief smile, but don't require any thinking.

So that leaves 74. These are feeds that require me to pay attention to what I'm looking at and decide "Is there useful information here?" Of those 74 that are left I feel like I know about 60 of the people that write the blogs through Twitter, FriendFeed, and in some cases I've even met the people(which is always cool and I wanna meet all of them, hopefully that will happen one day.) In many cases they are fellow librarians. Some of these I just added recently and may decide, eh...I can live without them. But for now I stand where I am

11 September 2008

7 years ago today

I'm sure a number of people are writing posts like this today, but I wanted to add what I saw and experienced 7 years ago today, too add my own memory to the collective.

7 years ago today I was finishing up my last semester of undergraduate. In undergraduate I was an art education major and this last semester was spent doing my student teaching. I remember another teacher coming into the room and telling us to turn on the TV something had happened. Students were filing in and out of classes at the time and had no idea what had happened...ours didn't until they set foot into the classroom. And we watched in shock and horror as events unfolded.

An e-mail was sent to teachers/faculty not to tell students anything that was going on. They didn't want them to panic and worry. My school wasn't the only one that did this, many adopted that policy to varying degrees of success as parents pulled their children from school. I guess we were too afraid to turn off the TV, fear over what would happen next. The "mentor" teacher I was working with didn't want the students to do nothing in the classroom, so we left the TV on, volume turned low, and asked the students to keep working. Why we thought we could have a normal class after just the first plane flying into the tower I'll never know, but it didn't last long. I had to reassure students that Rock Hill, SC wasn't going to be attacked by terrorists, that they'd likely hit somewhere else first (yes, I did tell them that they'd go somewhere else first as a way to comfort them, strangely it worked for most). I remember calling friends to make sure they had the news on and that they were okay. I remember going back to campus and most of the campus felt almost unnaturally quiet. Friends gathered and prayed and hoped that all the people we knew were safe. Some of us had just been in NYC in the spring and couldn't imagine how it would be different.

I wish I could say that I had some life changing moment, like Colleen, but I can make no such claim. I did start thinking about things differently and viewing life and friends in a different way and eventually got into the librarian world. I've tried not to take my friends, virtual or real life, for granted (I'm sure I have and if I do just smack me all right?) and that's probably the greatest change that I've had in my way of thinking. (I've always been a liberal, thought deeper thoughts than most kids my age, and been different that everyone else--till I got into librarianship that is). This seems like a good stopping point for now.

Good News Resources

Been a bit slower at posting as MPOW just went back into session and brain being dead. Good news is I've been diagnosed with a sinus infection so hopefully my brain will be back into gear soon and I can post more. Bad news, its a sinus infection.

Wanted to pass this resource/post along. It comes from Phil Bradley, good news resources!
It's a great place to find some literal good news. Particularly in this day and time of always hearing such bad news. Check it out and find some news to lift your day.

28 August 2008

Failure is an option

This post was originaly started in April right after Computers in Libraries (yes I'm slow, but I'm improving!) I was supposed to present to my colleagues at MPOW in 5 minutes what I learned at CIL (yeah 5 minutes for 3 days plus preconfrences) so this is what I would have talked about.

One of the themes that I picked up on at Computers in Libraries, althought maybe in not so many words, was that failure is an option.

It seems like from the time we enter elementary school, through college and into the work force, we're led to believe that failure is not an option. Or that's it a bad option. That if we fail we let down everyone who cares for us, our work place, and in some cases the world will end all because something failed. Whether it be a project, a relationship, or not hitting the winning home run. Failure is bad.

But, it isn't true. Failure is always an option. Failure doesn't mean that you didn't succeed. It's what you take away from it that matters the most. What did you learn? How did you learn? One of the most famous stories I've heard is about Thomas Edison and the lightbulb. It's said that when he was trying to invent the lightbulb he was asked about the "failures" (rumored to have been over a 1,000.) His response was "Failures? What failures? I now know 999 things that don't do what I wanted them to do. Out of these "failures" came many other inventions. Where others may have stopped, he kept going till he found what did work and along the way found uses for the other "failures."

With Library 2.0/Web 2.0 technology, there is always the chance that we're going to fail. Every idea that we have can't succede each time no matter how much we'd like that to happen. We're bound to fail. What's important though is what you take away from it. Why did it fail? What didn't work right? What could we have done differently? I think this is one of the most important things that we can ever learn from a project. We don't set out to fail, but when it happens that we make the best of it and apply what we learned to our next projects.

One of the biggest examples of "failure" I saw growing up, was Charlie Brown from Peanuts. He could neve quite kick the ball from Lucy, never won a game, and never could quite fly a kite. But, Charlie Brown had it wrong. Winning was never everything and failure is always an option. Its what you learn from it that matters.

Power of art

Okay I'm cleaning up saved drafts in profile and this is one from a while back (May actually).

I follow a number of different blogs, not all library or techie related. Some are art, which is what my undergrad degree was in, and I came across this touching and powerful post. It's the text from a speech Andy Marlette gave at the Columbia College Chicago department of journalism, in honor of his uncle Doug Marlette, artist of Kudzu and a Pulitzer prize winning editorial cartoonist.

I suppose there are a number of different things to take from it. The impact that a life can have on the world and the impact of their passing can be far reaching, beyond anything we might have thought.

But I suppose this struck me more:
In recent years when we spoke of the biz, he lamented the overall state of cartooning and the current condition of free speech and told me straight up that were he getting started in this day and age, he might not have gone into cartooning.
and this from further on down:
In our discussions about cartooning, Doug often spoke of his disappointment in a trend towards “safe” or just flat out boring cartoons. He was also cautious of new media obsessions with animation and flashy web formats interfering with the fundamentals of good, strong cartooning.
I think of it more than just in our focus as work, but our outlook on life. How often do we bite our tongues because we want to be "safe?" How often do words go unspoken, drawings never started, poems unwritten, and so on because we fear what others will think of us?

I think that the internet has at least given voice to those that still don't fit into society's "traditional" standard. You see it in webcomics, artists with tremendous talent, but their views aren't necessarily "family friendly." Same with writers and bloggers that speak out against atrocities they see in their homelands. Librarians are also becoming less hesitant to speak out and share their views. I'm trying to take that into account and not be afraid of speaking my mind. I hope y'all continue to follow and talk to me through FriendFeed, Twitter, and this blog, even though I am a bit strange and continue to share my thoughts.

Summer of learning!

Wow, where did the summer go? I started this post back in July and now its August. The summer flew by and our summer 2.0 learning extravaganza at MPOW has ended as well.

So I had planned to do a post after each week's session and obviously that didn't happen. So rather than do a back trace, I'm going to devote a paragraph or so to each weeks topic in this blog post. To recap our program consisted of three different introductory sessions, four different topics spread out over four weeks, and a capstone. Our colleagues could choose to attend any of the sessions that interested them and in our books they still participated in the program, even if it was just an introductory session. Here the first two postings on our launching of the Library/Web 2.0 program. Here's the breakdown on the introductory sessions.

My colleague, Liya, and I continually challenged ourselves as we were developing this program. We had begun discussing this program in March and by the time approval was granted we literally had about two weeks to get it up and going by the beginning of July. There were a number of things that we didn't think of and had to adapt to along the way so, it was a very challenging, but rewarding experience.

Before the sessions began we created a Wiki to host our information. This way our colleagues had access to the information that we presented, whether they were able to attend or not. We also invited our colleagues to be part of the wiki. We wanted them to have a chance to create content and add their own information into the wiki. This is the wiki that we created. One of the things that we made sure everyone knew was that Liya and I were available to answer any questions about any of the sessions. We wanted people to feel comfortable utilizing the software.

The first session was a discussion and exploration of Wikis using WetPaint. I should start off by saying we had to put this together by e-mail, IM, and Google Documents and didn't really have a chance to practice our presentation together. Liya taught the majority of the session, while I contributed small bits and pieces here and there. We had a good turnout of people from Public Services and a couple from Technical Services. We introduced what wikis were, how people have been using them, and show cased some examples. Then we showed our colleagues how to create a wiki using Wetpaint. Overall the session went fairly well and we learned a couple of key points. One: we learned to pace ourselves a bit better when speaking so we weren't both trying to share the same information at the same time. Two: Liya learned not to read from the slides just as a way to make the conversation a bit more lively. We did have a couple of people that created their own wikis, here's the best example. The people that attended seemed to enjoy themselves and ask questions. We were a little bit disappointed that no one stayed after the presentation to work on or start their wiki, but this proved to be an issue throughout the summer.

The second session was discussion and exploration of Flickr and tools to edit photos with. I taught this session and decided to show not just Flickr, which I think of as relatively easy to use, but some tools to edit photos with. After all one of the benefits of Flickr is that it has editing software built in. This session seemed to go fairly well. I decided to forgo creating a formal handout as the process of Flickr is relatively simple. You create an account, have photos, and start uploading. Based upon some comments received more people would have liked to see the process of creating the Flickr account. However, the attendees did like seeing the different online tools that could be used to edit your photos. I demonstrated on some of my colleagues headshots and showed some of the different effects that could be accomplished for free and improve the photograph. Here's the list of some of the websites that were highlighted. My goal with this presentation was to show the basics of Flickr and some of the online photo editing tools out there. I think I accomplished this and if we have a chance I'd love to showcase more of Flickr. Mostly I just wanted to get people started and I think folks did have the chance to do this.

The third session was blogs, guest taught by another colleague Geoff Timms. I wasn't able to attend this session, but based upon comments this was one of the most well liked presentations. Geoff showcased how to create a Blogger blog from beginning to end. People enjoyed seeing the entire process and I think this worked well with this topic. It probably also would have worked well with wikis, but we learned from that presentation and so did Geoff. Overall this session was probably the highlight of the 2.0 program.

The fourth and final session was on Last.fm/Pandora/and other online streaming media. I taught this session and wanted to give folks a chance to see how traditional media, such as movies, tv, radio, were moving online and could be accessed for free. I was able to highlight a number of different sites that were legal, such as Pandora and Hulu, and some that were of more questionable variety. My primary goal was to showcase just how many different sources were out there and how companies were having to reevaluate how they conducting business, such as how TV networks are putting shows online to watch for free. This last session was very small, three folks (the three presenters during the program actually), but it was a lot of fun and a good way to end the program, just wish that more people could have attended.

The hardest part of this program was this final bit, the Capstone. I think my colleague and I put so much focus and energy into sharing the technologies and tools with our colleagues that we just didn't have much left to give to the Capstone. For me I felt almost burned out. Part of it was due to some disappointment with the support we didn't get (and I felt like we would/should) and that there was just a lot of things going on. It was still a nice celebration, I just feel like it could have been more. We created certificates for everyone that attended any of the sessions from introductory session to the the final week. The dean signed the certificates and placed copies of them in each person's file. We had cake, fruit, and drinks to celebrate what was accomplished. We had people come to the capstone that didn't make it any of the sessions, but they got to see some of the things that we did. We did take pictures and those will be posted in the next week (I hope).

What's next? We're hoping to do something once a month, skipping September (just to let people get settled into the semester) and continue our learning. We're conducting a survey to find out what our colleagues learned and will be putting together a report for our management team to review. Based upon the responses there are a number of people interested in continuing learning and they have offered some valuable feedback.

I'll do a post on what we learned later this month after we compile some data from our final survey, but this was great experience and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.

26 August 2008

How did I get here?

I'm a bit late to the party and although I wasn't tagged I thought I'd jump in. The meme, started by Superstarachivist, is how did you get to being a librarian?

So how did I get here? I guess it was fate or destiny or the fact that I just liked to read led me to become a librarian. My first real experience with libraries and librarians was in High School, when one of the librarians started recommending books to me. She even brought books in for me that she thought I'd like! So that kinda of stuck in my mind when I started looking for work study when I went to college. And lo and behold the library contacted me!

I worked in Circulation and learned the in's and out's of access services pretty well. I was able to help with shifting, shelving, and just about anything that came across the Circulation desk. I remember my first year there pretty well, mostly because I was made to clean toner bottles. Not sure why, but that was something they made all freshman did (mostly for torture I think). But I stuck with it and I switched to working weekends and getting hours outside of work study money. I struck up a friendship with the student that was my boss and learned even more about libraries (he eventually went to library school.) When he graduated I got to train the person that was my boss on the weekend and we ended up becoming pretty good friends (I was in his wedding last year.) We supervised the student assistants on weekends, wrote their evaluations, and made sure basic tasks and duties got done, and that the building was opened and closed on time. And when he graduated I took on that job for the last semester.

I was art education in undergraduate and had a bad teaching experience so decided to go to grad school. And of course it was in Art History. But it never sat right. Even when I was at the college's main library I would want to show their staff and student's the right way to do treat your patrons (never did, but wanted to). A professor even asked why didn't I go into it. So I left after a year, without the degree and went to work at the library at Johns Hopkins University.

Here is where I had a boss tell me all jobs in the library were boring, but I worked with a great group of people and met really cool librarians. I worked the evening/weekend shift and in stacks/building maintenance. During these hours I really had a chance to work with students and help them find materials. I got to find out what librarians really did and how tech services worked. I knew that I wanted to stay in libraries, but the questions was where? I had great ideas on how to improve services, but sadly I wasn't really listened to at Hopkins for various reasons. I decided enough being a peon, I wanted my MLIS so I could implement change! And my friend from undergrad (the one whose wedding I was in) had just finished his MLIS and I thought well if he can do it, so can I.

So I left Hopkins, moved back to SC and attended University of South Carolina via Distane Education. I met some great people, had some interesting professors (that's another post in it's entirety!) and finished my MLIS in one year. During that time span I worked at a two libraries PT and gained experience working on the reference desk at one of them. I decided to stay in public services and began looking for work and landed my current job a couple weeks before I graduated. These first two years have been interesting and I've learned more about myself and what I'd really like to do as a librarian.

Here are a few other people who have shared their stories.

20 August 2008

Building my own library

One of the things that I've thought off and on about for the last couple of years is starting my own library. I mean think about it: it would be fun to recruit your ideal staff, to decide how to run things, what the library would contain, and just the general shape and structure. I mean who wouldn't want to do that right? It was only today that I actually thought about what the library would look like (all because a friend asked, they know who they are.)

So first thing to do is not worry about things like money, land space, etc. Now some would say would get hung up on the user population, but I'm just going to say mine is the "ideal population" of the library I'm building. In other words I'm just going to pretend my library fits what the population needs. I'm just going to give a rough sketch cause if I think about it too much, I'll never post this.

So I would create my library in an area like Asheville, NC. I've always loved the area and seems to have an interesting and diverse population. It would be a public library open to everyone.

First thing I'd do is I'd want a partnership with local museums. The library wouldn't share staff or building space, but would all be in the same block and and would be able to collaborate on stuff together, i.e. when art museum has a display on Van Gogh, the library could prepare a book display on what's going on. Maybe the buildings would even connect by cool underground tunnels to get from one area to the next and exits would take you to various gardens. The library would be built with wireless, plenty of outlet to plug into scattered throughout. Furniture would be comfortable, sturdy, with some pieces being easy to move (like the teen's area.) Some of this furniture would also have outlets within them so that you could plug in your laptop.

Different sections in the library would include: Childrens, teens, adult, local history room, museum/gallery room (information related to museum on the local block), and technology room. Children's and teen's I'd leave to someone else to design, but they'd have the support they need to make them fun and exciting places. Same with local history room. The adult area, would just be a place where the adults could sit back for a bit and enjoy the newspaper or a good book. It would be on the opposite side of the library from Childrens/teens (no they wouldn't be able to wander off and leave their kids alone). The museum/gallery room would be information for special exhibits, books that related to what was going on, ephemeral material, etc. There would be computers scattered throughout for people to access the internet and the catalog.

The technology room would be where I spent a good bit of time. This would be the area where media items (DVD, CD's, etc) are, where there would be a viewing area for people to watch listen to these items, and equipment would be. But it would be so much more! It would be a play ground of sorts where people could try out different cameras, record their own movie, record podcasts, etc. Equipment would be there and people to staff it all hours the library is open so that they can get help if they need it. It would be a great place to just learn something new. Classes would be offered on a wide range of topics, including some led by the patrons! Why not let the teens show the parents how to create their own Facebook/Myspace page.

Staffing would be knowledgeable, enthusiastic staffing, that would want to be there. I'd poach Twitter/Friendfeed/Blog friends from other libraries. I'd hire someone else to run the library and I'd spend my time playing in the technology room. Even though someone else would run the library I'd set a few ground rules.
1st communication is important. That will be stressed to everyone that is hired. You can't communicate you can't work at my library.
2nd all employees have a say in policy. Sure there will have to be some things that have to be kept quiet at first (personal matters mainly), but I want the library to be as open as possible. No hiding new policies. If we're going to change the food policy, employees get to have some sort of say in it or at least know about it before it's launched.
3rd no burying one's head in the sand. If somethings not working don't hide that its not working or try to ignore it. Own up to it, explore options, and if it requires a change in personal it happens. Loyalty is great, but being loyal to someone just because they've been there 15 years isn't a good thing. If they can't cut it at the job anymore they either need to be reassigned or find a new place to work (harsh I know, but true.).
4th continuing education is important. Library will support as much as possible. Enough said.
5th Staff are treated like the professionals they are. I don't care if they don't have a degree, they help keep the library running and are important to it being open. Don't treat someone poorly just because they don't have the MLIS.

I've skipped over focusing on what the collection would be like and other things mostly because if I tried to cover everything this would be a 50 page long blog post and no one would read that. So did I miss anything really important? What would your library be like if you could create it?

Unofficial Librarian Bio.

Colleen Harris, aka WarMaiden, has suggest a meme of unofficial librarian biographies where librarians rewrite their bio to express their inner selves, rather than the stuffy boring versions your POW makes you use. It began out of a FreindFeed conversation that Iris began.

So here's mine....
Andrew, aka ashuping aka Andy, has been around books so long he can tell you with LC heading the material falls into and best guess as to why. He discovered libraries in High School, hiding out during the lunch period and continued on in undergrad. Even though he was forced to clean toner bottles his first year of employment he continued working in the library, eventually obtaining official "Librarian" status. He now makes his living bringing access services into the 20th century. He spends his free time exploring the world of lego's, plotting with cats to take over the world, and he has an army of polar bears at his command to destroy his enemies at a moment's notice. He routinely contracts out the polar bears to help his friends in need.

Check out the bio's for WarMaiden, Kendra, and InfoSciPhi.

17 August 2008

Everybody Manga!

A new sensation is sweeping the nation! Well maybe not the nation, but part of it. Just like last week it's a new way to reimagine yourself. You can create a Manga headshot of yourself. Here's mine:

Not quite sure the hair color is right, but, close enough I think.

So wanna create your own?
Go to Faceyourmanga.com

13 August 2008

Access Services Hero!

Did this a few days ago, but just now getting around to post it. My own version of a hero for the library!
It's the Access Services hero! Return your books on time or you'll hear from him! But he'll do even more than that. He'll rescue you from fines, lost books, reserves and more! Just give him a call.

Yeah okay that was cheesy, deal.

Created using Heromachine, go create your own!

Breaking up with a service

*note this post is off topic from libraries, but has implications for those that provide us w/services*

I'm breaking up with Comics.com. It's official as of today. Subscription ran out and I ain't renewing it. Comics y'all have some great comics on your site, Dilbert, Peanuts, Rose is Rose, and man am I going to miss getting those in my inbox every morning. It was a great way to start the day!

But let's look at the service you provided:

You servers seemed to crash once a month. No one could log into accounts, e-mail's didn't get sent out, and so on. What happened when I complained that the e-mails didn't get sent and I missed a day (or more!) worth of comics? You told me I could still go to your site and view them. Wasn't I paying you so I didn't have to do that?

Comics didn't update. When I e-mailed you about this you blamed the artist and said they didn't get it to you on time. Really? The people that depend upon you for their living couldn't do a simple task? Weird cause I saw the same strip updated elsewhere.

Poor communication skills. When there were problems did you let us know? Nope. Why would you? I guess you just don't understand how to communicate. Bad things happen, I get it. But it would be nice if you'd tell us about it. Let's talk about some examples:
Debit card number changed recently and for the life of me couldn't remember where I had used it. Figured it wasn't as big of a deal cause they'd let me know. Another service I know, they sent me an e-mail saying that the auto renewed failed and to check the site. Nothing fancy, but simple. You, nada. You made me wait until my service ran out and I had to e-mail you to find out. Even when I logged into your site it kept bouncing me out, never once saying that my subscription ran out.

Comics you just don't provide the service that I'm paying you for. So with that I'm done with paying you Comics, you just ain't worth it for me any more. Farewell.

17 July 2008

The sin of silence

To me it often feels like society pressures us to go non-stop, seemingly 24 hours a day, even on the weekends. We have to work to afford the necessities of life and a few extras to keep us from going completely off the deep end. Somedays it seems like work thinks that it is the be all end all, the all mighty point in life, and steals hours and often days away. Then its off to home where projects lay and await to greet us. Painting, cleaning, etc. Or family obligations of loved ones wait to meet us when we walk in. When do we get a few moments to ourselves? Why does it feel like its a sin to ask for a few moments of silence, to watch as a storm goes by or the cats chase a bug around the apartment?

This is something that I'm struggling to deal with and to learn about. I'm having to learn that those projects that are sitting on my table, while it will be nice to finish them, aren't all important. So my apartment is slightly cluttered, it's not the end of the world. That work, no matter what they tell me, is not the be all end all. The world won't end because a report didn't get written on time or that statistics weren't compiled to sit on someone's desk for a month. And that they can't keep stealing all of my time away.

I'm learning I am allowed to have a life of my own, even if its just for a for an hour each day where I can sit in silence. I've started listening more to the wind blow and the sun shine on those moments when I can. And that no matter what others may tell me, that as long as I'm happy, sitting in silence for a few minutes isn't a sin.

11 July 2008

The tao of cats

I've decided to develop a new philosophy based upon cats. It came about after looking at my life, the stress from work and life in general, and watching my cats. I discovered that I could learn a lot by watching them that could be applied to my own life. And yes I know others have probably discussed similar things, but this is my own take on it. And this was developed with the help of someone who at the moment will be nameless [not sure if they want to be associated with the tao of cats just yet :)]

It's still a work in progress, but here's what I've learned from observation of these fascinating creatures:
  • Find a position that's comfortable and take a nap. The sun is the best spot, but other places may work as well.
  • When you want attention just flop down, roll over, and let people know you need a bit of attention. But be careful, don't do it to often or you'll get ignored.
  • If you're hungry, get up eat and drink. Just make sure play with the water while doing so. It needs to be taught whose in charge each time.
  • Go exploring! Paw open those cabinets and doors. You'll never know where a surprise might be hidden away.
  • Make some noise and let people know that you've got something to say. If it's 3 in the morning and it's important, wake them and let them know.
  • Play with your toys! Bells are best and make lots of noise, but others work as well.
  • Play with your siblings, but make sure your nice to them, you never know when they might get bigger than you are.
If you more suggestions add away in the comments.

08 July 2008

Learning from 2.0

Yesterday my colleague and I completed our 3rd (and final) introductory session into Library 2.0 summer extravaganza. Out of 27 people on staff 11 attended including two members of the management group (2 that didn't come one is on a "special project" and rarely in the building and the other is a special status PT person.) The purpose of these sessions was to introduce Library 2.0/Web 2.0 to our colleagues and how the summer program would work. Or as my colleague liked to say "get their buy in."

And I think we did get their "buy in" support from them. Everyone that showed seemed to be interested in learning and those that didn't come well their loss. They asked good questions and let us know what we could do to make the next sessions even better. Everyone that attended I told them that what they learned in these sessions they could take back and show off to their colleagues that didn't come and then train them on the new tools. Hopefully building a continuing cycle.

Due to far too many projects being due at one time, my colleague and I didn't really get a chance to practice our session. Everything we did we built through Google Documents, IM, e-mail, and the short conversations we were able to grab during the day. And for us it was a big learning process. We had about two weeks to put all of the details together and get people interested and I think we did a pretty good job. We've learned things as we've gone along and we've listened to the feedback given to us by our users.

Now comes the more challenging part of the project, 4 one week sessions, each session devoted to a different topic. We let the staff vote and pick their top 4 topics and we're analyzing the results now. A couple things are tied so I'm thinking we may play to our strengths and show off some of the tools that could really be used in the library. The first session starts next week and we've got to pick a day to have the "petting zoo" porition (showing off the technology) and to be honest I'm a bit nervous, but I think we'll do okay.

What have I learned thus far? Well one is having more time to plan. I feel like my colleague and I started early enough in presenting the idea, but we forgot to take into account the slow moving wheels at MPOW into getting it started. It may have been better if we waited until next summer or fall to start this, but my colleague and I both were excited about getting it going and we had the support of managment so we went with it. The other thing that we've learned is to have handouts of some sort. We've started work on a wiki so staff can refer back to some of the key points of the intro presentation, such as how the program will work, what is library 2.0, and some examples of the tools and how they can be used in the library.

Overall it's been a great project thus far and we're excited about where it will go.

06 July 2008

The power of paper

We've heard it before. Paper will go the way of the dinosaurs, librarians will be out of jobs, and computers will rule the world! But paper is still around. Books are still printed. Paper hasn't left us and still seems to be going strong in some areas. Here are my reasons why paper, including paper books, won't ever completely leave us.

Why paper just won't go away.
  • A love letter written or received from someone special. It's opened multiple times and carefully refolded to preserve the words written within. And if the day is just right, sometimes you can even catch a scent that reminds you of that person and of that time, even if the relationship is long gone.
  • A letter from those that have left our lives for whatever reason. Friends, family, loved ones. With each tracing of the letters and words written, you feel that they are once again next to you. The letters slowly yellow with age, yet they still feel strong.
  • The "feel" as you write a letter. The scratch of the pen or pencil on the paper. Thoughts and feelings poured into it for the world to read, by the way you write certain words.
  • The A on that big project in school. We run in and show it off and its hung ever so carefully on the refrigerator a source of pride to show off to whoever comes in.
  • Showing off how far you've gotten in a book, by where the bookmark is. A source of pride when you get to those first chapter books.
  • Showing off your love for a book, not because of the pristine condition and how "new" the book looks, but because of how the cover has nearly fallen off from reading it so often
  • The smell and feel of cracking open the binding of a new book for that first good read and wondering what adventure or knowledge lies ahead.
  • Finding comfort in a book that has traveled the world with you. Its pages dogeared so often that they've almost fallen, but there's still comfort in the pages soft from so much use.
I'm not saying that e-books, e-paper, and e-mails don't have their purposes, but for me there's still comfort in holding that book. Or writing a letter with pen and paper. Sending a quick e-mail is great to catch up with someone, but e-mails never quite seem to carry the same weight as that written letter where you can tell who wrote it by the way they crossed their t's or dotted their i's or the fact that its virtually unreadable.

For over 2000 years we've put a writing instrument to paper to capture our thoughts and feelings for what happens around us. In over 2000 years paper has seen us through it all. It captures our imaginations and our lives. It may be lost to time when it gets wet or decays, but yet it still holds our fascination. Technology has taken the place of some of what paper once did, such as the spread of news and finding of resources, but paper still holds the soul of the writer.

Friendfeed vs. Twitter

Others have posted their thoughts recently about the two services and the differences between them, and they did much better than I ever could, so I'll try keep my thoughts short.

Twitter is a great service, when it works. It doesn't take too much effort to find out on Google that Twitter is having all kinds of trouble staying up. And this is a bad thing because people really like the service it offers. You can Direct Message someone, its easy to let people know what you're up to, and you can see what your friends are up too. It's a great way to also play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. You can follow your friends post to other people and back others and keep going to the original source. It's been a great way to meet people you would have never had the opportunity too. But it has its limitations, namely that it won't stay working. As well as other little glitches that lets random people start following you.

Friendfeed is a bit of a different service. You can still post updates and follow people, but you can also tie in some of your other Web 2.0, updatable sites. You're followers can know when you've added new bookmarks, new movies to Netflix, updated your blog, and so on, all in one web site. Here's Friendfeed's FAQ that provides a pretty good description of what they do. While Friendfeed has its own faults, such as you can't Direct Message someone and if someone's profile is private its hard to tell who they are, it has some great pluses. It's a great way to roll your multiple services into one location. If you want people to be able to easily follow when you've updated your Flickr account or one of your many blogs, this is the place to see it. Friendfeed let's your followers instantly know when one of these services has been updated.

But what I really like is there's more of a sense of community building. You aren't limited by 140 characters to talk and discuss things. You can have a real conversation and share links and pictures. Conversations are threaded together so you can instantly see when someone else has added a point to a previous post. You don't have to go to thirty different pages and friend multiple people to see where the conversation started or is going, it's all in one neat thread for you. Because I've this I've met and talked to people I wouldn't normally have had the chance too. And they've started following me, which I find really cool as some of them have been big names in library world for a while.

So I'll keep Twitter around, but Friendfeed is really growing on me.

If you have links about the comparison please post them below!

26 June 2008

MPOW of Learning 2.0 Extravaganza

My colleague and I officially launched our Summer Learning 2.0 Extravaganza today. We sent an e-mail out to our colleagues announcing the opportunity and are looking forward to hearing back from whose interested.

Here's the e-mail launch:
Have you heard the buzz? Library 2.0, Web 2.0, Wikis, Blogs, Meebo,
Flickr? Do those terms throw you for a loop? Not sure what they
mean, but want to find out?

Then come on down to the Tarver Learning 2.0 extravaganza and petting
zoo! We'll have a summer of learning new technologies and
experiences. In our introductory session, we'll cover what Library
2.0/Web 2.0 really is and how it can benefit you in your daily life,
both work and home. And we'll discuss just how our summer of learning
will work.

We will be offering three introductory workshops for a limited time
only! So, stop by on Tuesday July 1 @10am, Wed. July 2 @4pm, or on
Monday July 7 @11am in the classroom to find out about our learning
extravaganza. Please let us know which of these exciting events that
you'll be able to attend!

Then YOU have the chance to learn more in depth about these exciting
tools! We'll have a chance to explore using these tools in real life.
Just imagine the possibilities…by the end of the summer you can
upload and tag your photos in Flickr, create your own blog, or play on
social networks (and you'll know what the terms mean!) Impress your
colleagues and classmates, amaze young folk that you know the lingo!
So come on out and learn! We'll have from July 14-August 8 to

To help us get started please take the survey below to choose your top
four choices for learning topics. Once this done we'll, tally the
votes, and the top four choices we'll be the items we explore in a
petting zoo in July! Here you'll be able to stop by and experience
the technology in action. We'll see how they work, who's using them,
and how you can start using them yourself! Please respond to the
survey by Tuesday July 8 to find out who wins! (Please check out the
attachment for a brief description of the topics!)

(survey link omitted)

So stop on by and see how you can learn with us this summer!


Liya and Andrew

24 June 2008

Do you want fries with those statistics?

As you've noticed, I've been a bit...absent from blogging recently. That's mostly because I've been working on a ton of different reports from work which are taking up a lot of time. However, one of the things that I've realized from working on these reports is that libraries are in love with statistics and numbers. We wanna show off how many times a database is used, how many patrons walk through the door, how many books are checked out and so on. And there's nothing wrong with these statistics, they help guide us in materials to select, how late to stay open, and how best to serve our patrons. On a broader level they help libraries continue to exist as we can showcase the data to justify why we should get a budget or be able to have more hours or hire that new person to design our webpage.

But I've been thinking that we, like a lot of the world, have become so obsessed with statistics that we want to break everything down to its finest detail. Which patrons are using which databases at which hour of the day? Which departments request the most books during the month of August in leap years? (I'm sure someone what out there has to answer that last question, thankfully it’s not me.) Focusing on the smallest details doesn't really help us do our jobs better, in fact my observation is that it hinders us from achieving our purpose of serving our patrons and losing sight of the larger picture.

Why is this? It seems to me that we are often farm statistics out to someone else, generally to the lowest person on the totem pole, and ask them to gather the needed information and it often seems like ordering from a takeout menu. We tell them, we need statistics on this and that, but not that. And make sure you include the fries dangit! But putting together statistics shouldn’t be like a takeout menu. Doing so often means that you don’t get that full picture that you’re really looking for. Even if you looking at the statistics yourself is it possible you're missing something? Can you really know every statistical piece of data your library keeps?

So if you ask for something, give the person the full details as to what the project is. Of if your doing the collecting yourself, share with your colleagues! Why do these statistics matter??? Who's seeing this and why the heck is it so bloody important that you have it by next Tuesday? Because 9 times out of 10 the person you point you in directions that you didn’t think of and make your report that much richer. I like to think that I remember to let people know about the “total picture,” but I don’t some times. I do my best and I’m learning as I go which is about all that anyone can hope for and this post is part of my learning process. So let’s not treat statistics gathering like we’re ordering from a take out menu, let’s share the larger picture with our colleagues that they can help us present a report that actually means something and that isn’t missing half the story. And let’s leave the fries off…too fattening.

Library 2.0 fair

I'm please to announce that my library is taking a big step to introducing Library 2.0/Web 2.0 concepts to the library at large. This summer a colleague and I are going to launch (some yet to be determined catchy name) program that will give our colleagues a chance to see, explore, and use some of the tools that a number of us out in library land have already seen. While it is a possibility for them to integrate the tools into their daily workflow, it is a time for them to integrate the tools into their personal lives. A number of our colleagues are taking classes and furthering their education and learning these technologies gives them a chance to utilizie the tools in furtheirng their education. We recieved offical approval last week, so now we're throwing things into high gear to roll out what we want to do.

So here's a brief detailing of what our program will be:
Sending of the launch e-mail. The e-mail will have multiple parts to it. We're going to talk about what the program will be, a little bit about how it will work, include a survey, and have an attachment. The attachment will be describe selected web 2.0/library 2.0 topics, such as online music (Pandora), Wikis, blogs, etc. The descriptions will help our colleagues get a sense of the different topics that might be covered and help them decide what they want to learn about. The survey will give them a chance to choose 4 topics that they would be interested in learning about. The top four topics will be choosen for introducing to the library at large. Doing the survey up front gives us time to prepare for intruction.

We'll have an introduction for Library 2.0/Web 2.0 time! This will be our first face to face meeting that will give us a chance to sit and talk about what these concepts are, why they are important to know about, and how they will be beneficial to them. We'll cover how the program will work, what support will be provided to help them learn, and what they can look forward too. The program will run for four weeks.

The top four topics are choosen and announced to the group at large. If people are only interested in learning about one topic then they are free to attend the session on just that topic.

A "petting zoo!" The top four topics are displayed and demonstrated to the group at large. This gives participants a chance to see how things work, get a better understanding of what they want to learn about, and see how other libraries are utilizing some of these products. (I have to give thanks to Maurice Coleman, or (Almost)BaldGeek, from Harford County (MD) Public Library for the idea of the "petting zoo." His presentation at Computers in Libraries 2008 was exteremely helpful in deciding the best way to set up our program.)

Now comes the play! Participants are able to decide if they want to focus on all four topics, one, two, or three. They'll be asked to let us know which topics they want to learn about. Then instruction sessions commence! We'll offer multiple chances for participants to come by for short 30 minute detailed demonstrations of how to launch their topic. From here they'll be expected to being playing. While we won't have much time to all work together as a group, my colleague and I will be available to answer questions. And our hope is that they'll help each other. This is all self-paced learning. Their welcome to take all four weeks to learn one topic, or to learn about four different topics in the four weeks.

Capstone! At the end of the four weeks we'll all come together to showcase and demonstrate what we've learned. Participants will choose the end result that they are most proud of and share it and what they learned with everyone us.

We see this as just the beginning and will lead us into continued exploration of multiple topics. Most importantly though we hope to have fun helping our colleagues learn about new tools that they can use.

30 May 2008

Future posts!

This was a feature I knew Blogger was testing, but they've now made it live.

You can now schedule when you want your posts to go up!

So if you have five postings and want to spread them out over a certain time period under post options, change the date and time to some point in the future, and Blogger won't post them until that time point. It's a great way to do a time capsule effect, in that you can post your thoughts today and set the post to publish in a month, a year, 10 years, and see how your thoughts have changed.

CIL preconfrence thoughts

That's right...I'm setting aside time today and tomorrow to finally finish blogging on Computers in Libraries so I can post on other exciting topics...

It's been two months so my thoughts are kinda of blurred now (which is why I should have finished this a while ago), but both pre-conference workshops were fantastic. I've been able to take ideas that I've learned from them and start incorporating them into work life here. We have plans for doing a library 2.0 session over the summer for all members of our staff and I've been able to introduce some of the elements I learned from Almost Baldgeek and Librarian In Black workshop on training staff with technology, such as the hands on workshops. I've also been able to share some elements to make a great podcast, such as not reading directly from the script, that I learned from David and David.

Although the cost of the pre-conference seemed a bit high, the information that was shared was well worth while (see previous posts for full details.) The speakers were engaging as they shared the information they had. The audience felt like they really had a chance to participate in the podcasting/videocasting workshop and to gain an understanding of some different methods that can be used to train staff in technology.

24 April 2008

Thinking on 2.0

Yes running a bit behind on this, but sharing anyway:

I saw this post from David Lee King from a speaker at PLA. I really like this quote "It’s ok for a new service to fail - it didn’t really fail, because you learned something."

17 April 2008

CIL: Technology Training for library staff: Creativity works

Technology Training for library staff: Creativity works

Annette, Maurice, Sarah

As I remember this was a very creative and interesting presentation (writing this post a couple of weeks after from notes). As my library is discussing how to teach Library 2.0 to our staff I was very interested to learn from these presenters.

Maurice Coleman and Annette Gaskins from Hartford County public library from Maryland spoke about a specific project, the "petting zoo" that they ran to introduce their staff to new technology. And Sarah Houghton-Jan, the Librarian In Black!, discussed the benefits of a coordinated effort at staff training.

1st up were Maurice and Annette, who are both trainers for their library system. The state of Maryland gave a mandate for all public libraries staff to learn about Library 2.0, based upon the PLMC model. We learned that Hartford County has a diverse population from urban to Amish (they even have a hitching post at one of their libraries!) Maurice and Anette were tasked with a way to introduce the library staff to Library 2.0 concepts, before they did the Library 2.0 PLMC model (23 things to learning about Library 2.0). The goal was to introduce the staff to the basics were before discussing them more in depth.

The librarians at their libraries, didn't understand new technology, such as Facebook, Youtube, etc. that their users were asking about. Some staff just wanted to be able to keep up with their own kids. Anette and Maurice began by conducting a survey of the staff to find out what they wanted to learn and what couldn't be covered in the regular training sessions that they provided to library staff.They decided to go with the "petting zoo" model, which is where people have a chance to hear and play with the tools. Why this model? It provided the staff with a laboratory setting to play with the devices that they would be learning about in the Library 2.0 concepts. They trained all public service staff (required) and most of the support staff. One of the major challenges was that they had to do this without disrupting public services.

The first steps:
They had the support of the administration, who required all public services staff to attend and strongly encouraged others. More importantly they had visible support. The managers even participated in the training, and they have pictures to prove it! They even paid the PT staff to come in! Get people to buy into the program and get them excited about. Get them to talk about it with each other. It was decided that the best time to do this training would be on Wed. mornings when most of the library branches didn't open until after 12. The program was a half-day training, which included one hour of lecture and two hours of hands on activities. With the day and time chosen they divided people into groups of 6. Each group had twenty minutes at each of the 6 stations.

They decided that they would have six different workstations for staff to try out:
Streaming media

What did they expect the staff to learn? A couple of the main points were:
To have an introduction and be comfortable to working with new things
A chance to try hands on activities--many things they only had the equipment for just the day of the event
And of course to learn about library 2.0

Taking Shape--people
Each station had at least two trainers to be available and answer questions. They had a station master who was in charge of presenting and station staff that could help answer the questions. These were people that were knowledgeable about what they were speaking on and could answer questions that might arise. One thing that the library did was partner with a big box store, Best Buy, that not only provided resources--such as TVs, etc, they also provided staff that were available to help answer questions. Best Buy actually approached the library in this case and asked what they could do. They were able to secure monitors and flat screens to use for the day. They suggested that libraries talk to these stores, see what they could offer. Many offer community outreach and maybe able to help out.

They had host/hostesses that helped guide groups to the stations and provide additional support.

Most importantly they had "geek" and facility support. These were people that helped ensure that everything was in working order. To find people to station masters and staff they tapped into the people in the organization who were early adopters, aka "technology people by default." They utilized natural tech people and library trainers. They also tapped into their younger staff like pages and clerks. In the academic world I'm imagining this being able to work with student assistants or maybe even patrons that frequent the library! And don't forget the "curious learner" those that like to learn about everything. These people can be your best allies in training.

Space, you can never have too much of it. Find as much as you can with plenty of parking. You need space to move, space to hear, and space to play. Most importantly you need space with a good electronic infrastructure, internet access and plenty of electric outlets. Make sure that there is a good "flow" to the room and that people aren't bumping into each other. If you use gaming you may want to have it in a separate area since it can be kinda of loud.

Make sure that you have all of the equipment that you need, including computers, keyboards, mice, plugs, extension cords, etc., etc. Borrow from your sister counties see if you can pool resources together. Make sure everything is labeled so that it gets back to the right person. IT staff will remember what you borrowed from them! If you have projectors, make sure you have projection surfaces that work! They showed green walls where they couldn't see what was being used, so they improvised with bed sheets and paper.

Most importantly--do a dry run! Set it up make sure it works, and then test again! Make sure everyone whose going to be there knows how the equipment works and how to do troubleshooting.

The Big day!
One thing that they didn't think about was breaks, food, or drink. They were lucky in that someone could go grab food and drink. In the future they would plan for that. And have more people to help step in so that someone could have a break. You can never have too many people. Make sure that there are seating options for those that can't stand and that everything is labeled. Which way to go, how to get to places, and anything else that they might need to know.

Make sure that you have good team skills and personalities working together. Make sure staff schedulers know that staff need time for lunch and time for breaks after training. Communicate again and again, about where people need to be, what time they need to be there, and so on.

Patience is a virtue. The other shoe will drop, learn to let go and let the chips fall where they may. Make sure that you have troubleshooters identified to help handle the problems. Make sure people know where to go, how to get there, and what to do when they get there.

Document the "zoo" as you go along! Blog, photograph, survey, anecdotal. What did they learn? Now staff can truly engage patrons about new technology. They've started new 2.0 projects to use in the library, such as a wiki and a del.icio.us account. It took 4 to 5 months to put together, but was considered a success.

Next up was the Librarian in Black!
Sarah talks about technology training for staff on a large scale. As it stands know the users know more than the librarians. Why the lack of coordinated effort? Because of the size of the project and costs. First up, why should you train staff? She discusses a number of different reasons, such as saving money, increasing staff petition rate, improving customer service, increase productivity, and so on.

What does it take to do this type of training? Time and Money! Libraries should be ready to devote significant amounts of both to do this type of training. You need to be able to attend training sessions and conferences that will continue to improve staff skills.

When planning for training start with staff competencies. What do they need to do their job? Most importantly make sure that one person doesn't become the "tech pack mule" someone that has to stop what their doing to answer everyone's questions, all the time. This will help prevent these people from leaving, which is not what you want to happen. Figure out what staff need! Do they need to know how to forward e-mail? How to do word processing? Create a list of what's needed. Do an assessment to determine what's needed. This helps create job descriptions, with performance evaluations, helps create expectations for all staff and create consistent customer service.

She proposed 10 planning questions for training: purpose, who manages, who identifies, etc. The one I thought most interesting--what is considered technology. What should happen is that customers get the same level of service, regardless of the hour.

Get your staff to buy in and use their input! What are the challenges to this? Make sure that everyone is kept informed about what's going on. The managers must follow the project plan. Hold a brainstorming party. Reward people! Have fun!

Have a taskforce that helps plan this with people from all levels. Use this time to determine how the library fits into the community in teaching technology. Make sure that the competencies determine who learns what, how it relates to their jobs, and has space for comments. Most important make sure that their is ongoing learning! Libraries should never stop learning. Provide a glossary of terms. Create this on paper and create it online. An important step, make sure you talk to the person currently in the job about what skills they think they need and then talk to management.

Make sure you determine how you're going to assess the training. Who reviews the results? IMPORTANT! Give the training coordinator the authority and credibility to tell the person that they need to go to a certain training session, even if they think they don't. You have to have the backing of supervisors and management. Deadline is important with assessment. Review the results and work with the supervisors to create training needs for each person.

Have scheduled learning time. Training is essential!! Make sure you have sufficient budget, funding and time to accomplish this. Start with the basic topics first, such as how to use a computer. Open up trainings to all staff. If the person feels that they need to go, let them go. This is where it is very important to have the support of management to get someone to go to a training session.

Have unscheduled learning: book, article, blogs, online tutorials, field trips to see what other nearby libraries are doing, watching podcasts, webcasts, etc. Have on the spot peer training. This is where the tech person can come in handy. They aren't having to answer all questions, but just a few.
To help staff to continue to learn:

Give staff 15 minutes a day to study/learn

Schedule 1 off desk hour for self study

Encourage conference/lecture attendance

Share online tutorials, printed materials, demos

Have prizes. Encourage learning. Use real world experiences. Do a continual reassessment of the project. What will be needed next? Are there are other ways to do this? Make sure you have ways to meassure success, and what happens if people don't meet the goals they are supposed too. Just as their should be rewards, there should be consequences as well. This is again where its important to have the support of managers. It may require a demotion, transfer, pay cut, or in worst cases--firing.

Make sure you celebrate the successes! Do something out of the ordinary!